In large part, Ed Edwards’ class A drug odyssey The Political History of Smack and Crack does what it says on the tin. Steeped in social and political commentary, Edwards’ piece steers us through the bumpy ride of addiction, from hospital room to street corner via a constitutional polemic that aims straight at the heart of the UK during the heights of Thatcherism.
The play is told through the eyes of multiple characters, played by Eve Steele and William Fox, all of whom have crossed paths with the class A lifestyle. With a bare stage and no props, Fox and Steele navigate addiction and love with ease, making the 70-minute running time whizz by.
Stylistically, in part, this is documentary – and as such, there is a tendency for the audience to be somewhat removed from the emotional thread of the story. The central character’s tale is told with enormous sensitivity and performed with great care, but it also plays a little safe and, as such, not as moving or as powerful as it promises.
The Political History of Smack and Crack isn’t a warts-and-all insight into addiction, and it feels at times that it’s playing to the middle-class stalls. At its most engaging, however, it is a tender and often affectionate observation of how to navigate a crisis, with potent historical context.
The Political History of Smack and Crack on at Bristol Old Vic until 25 January
Originally published on Broadway World.